Today, when there is an app or website for anything and everything under the sun, user experience (UX) design has become an essential part of product development. As a result, the demand for UX designers is rising and is expected to continue.
Wondering how to become a UX designer and get a foot in the field?
In this article, we’ll explore the steps you can take to get into UX design, including the education and training you need, the essential skills required, and the tools and resources you can use to advance your career.
But first, let’s get some basics out of the way before we dig into how to become a UI UX designer.
What is UI & UX? What is the Difference?
UI and UX are distinct but interrelated aspects of designing a digital product. UI design focuses on the visual elements such as buttons, icons, and screens that users interact with while using an app or website. UX design, on the other hand, is concerned with the overall user experience, including how users feel about the product’s interaction.
While a good UI can enhance UX, both require specific expertise and roles. A product with excellent UI but poor UX, like a shopping app that takes too long to load, won’t be well-received by users. Similarly, a website with great UX but a poorly designed UI, such as one that is difficult to navigate, will also have limited user engagement.
Let us look at the technical differences between the two roles before exploring how to become a user experience designer.
A product is designed for technicality and with ease of use in mind. How the user interacts with the product has a significant impact on the value of the product. UX designers make the products not only functional but also accessible and enjoyable.
Here are some of the everyday tasks of a UX designer for those interested in learning how to become a UX designer:
- identifying any objectives, needs, behaviors, and pain points associated with a product interaction through user research
- the creation of user personas based on target clients
- User journey maps are made to study how customers interact with products.
- Creating wireframes and prototypes to fine-tune the appearance of the finished product
- conducting user testing to confirm design choices and spot issues
- working together with developers, UI designers, and stakeholders
UI, unlike UX, is implied only to digital products. It is all about creating the graphical portions of a mobile app, device, or website. They make the product visually appealing and easy to navigate. Here are some of the daily tasks of a UI designer:
- organizing page design and layouts
- Choosing fonts and color schemes
- designing interactive elements like text fields, scrollers, toggles, buttons, and drop-down menus
- creating detailed wireframes and layouts to demonstrate the final design
- collaborating closely with programmers to translate designs into a usable product
Read More: What’s the Difference Between UI and UX?
Job Description of UI/UX Designer: Role & Responsibilities
To get a better understanding of how to become a UI UX designer, let’s dig into what these professionals do on a daily basis. A UX Designer’s primary responsibility is to enhance the user experience and create intuitive digital products that meet users’ needs. The job requires a combination of technical and creative skills to design user-friendly and visually appealing interfaces. The role entails several core activities and responsibilities, so if you’re looking into how to get into UX design, let’s explore what their responsibilities are.
UX Designers conduct extensive research, including market, product, and user research, to understand the user and their needs. This research analyzes customer behavior, motivations, and needs through data collection, surveys, user interviews, and focus groups to identify market opportunities.
UX Designers create user personas by analyzing research findings to identify patterns and commonalities in user behavior, motivations, and needs. Each persona represents a potential user’s demographic information, needs, and responses to help the development team better understand their target audience.
Information Architecture (IA)
Information Architecture (IA) is the way information is organized to communicate a clear purpose and enable easy navigation. This blueprint aims to optimize user interaction and guide the design team in building wireframes and prototypes. It involves creating a website, app, and product structure that allows users to understand their current position and access desired information.
Wireframing is the initial step in creating a product where UX designers use low-fidelity design sketches to represent various screens or stages in the user journey. Wireframes include basic representations of UI design elements, which guide further product design and development.
Prototyping and high-fidelity design
UX designers create higher-fidelity product prototypes for user testing and to showcase to the development team. These prototypes are similar to the final product, with a look, feel, and range of capabilities. Clickable prototypes allow for practical testing of the user experience and identifying areas for improvement.
Testing is a crucial step in identifying necessary changes before development. UX Designers can use various methods to test a product. User testing is among the most common, allowing users to interact with a prototype to analyze accessibility, usability, and intuitiveness. Other methods include focus groups and moderated/unmoderated tests for valuable feedback.
What Tools You Should Know About as a UI/UX Designer?
UI/UX designers need to use a variety of wireframing and prototyping tools on a day-to-day basis to create and test their designs. In this section, we’ll talk about some of the most popular ones.
Figma is a widely-used tool for wireframing, followed by Illustrator, InVision Studio, Adobe XD, Axure, and Marvel. Companion tools like Photoshop and Illustrator are also helpful for editing photos and creating vector-based images. For prototyping, InVision is widely used, with Sketch coming in second. For more advanced prototyping, options like Principle, Flinto, Framer, and ProtoPie allow micro-interactions and other features.
How to Become a UX Designer: A Step-by-Step Guide
A career as a UX designer is an attractive one. It has major perks, a high scope of growth (more on that below), and a huge demand in several industries. If you are looking for a UX designer career, here is a step-by-step approach to making a solid UX designer career.
Step 1: Take a UX design course
There are multiple options to pursue a career in UX design, such as enrolling in a bachelor’s or master’s degree program in fields like Interaction Design or Digital Design. As UX is a relatively new field, no degrees are focused solely on this subject. However, one can rely on various other degrees, like one in design, psychology, linguistics, and computer science, to help one transition to the field. For a quicker and more flexible alternative, consider taking a UX design course, many of which offer certifications to boost your resume. The best bet is to find an industry-recognized certificate course that can provide thorough learning on the topic.
Step 2: Learn to use the essential design tools
If you’re interested in becoming a UX designer, learning to use the digital tools essential to the field is important. The sketch is the most widely used wireframing tool, but it’s vital to familiarize yourself with other options like Illustrator, InVision Studio, Adobe XD, Axure, Figma, and Marvel. For interface design, Photoshop is a popular choice. InVision and Sketch are popular in prototyping, while advanced prototyping can be done using tools like Principle, Flinto, Framer, and ProtoPie.
Step 3: Design on your own
Creating designs independently is essential to gaining practical UX design experience. While completing a UX design course, students usually work on a project. However, it’s necessary to continue creating designs outside class to enhance skills and proficiency with different design tools.
After completing a design, sharing it on online platforms such as Behance and Dribbble is recommended. By sharing your designs, you can receive feedback from professionals in the field and start building your portfolio. It’s an excellent opportunity to connect with the UX design community and gain visibility, which can help you land a job in the industry.
Step 4: Obtain some practical experience
To gain practical experience, aspiring UX designers can consider design internships or freelance work, which provide valuable resume-building opportunities and networking potential. In addition to honing technical skills, these opportunities help develop important soft skills such as project management, collaboration, and communication.
LinkedIn and Upwork are great places to search for internships and freelance opportunities. Upwork offers over 850 UX designer freelance jobs, making it a promising option for those seeking to build their field experience. Building a solid technical and soft skills foundation can help designers stand out in a competitive job market.
Step 5: Create a portfolio
Creating a portfolio is crucial to showcase your skills and experience as a UX designer. A portfolio is an excellent way to display your best work and demonstrate your process and abilities.
It should include a variety of samples, including demo work and projects completed for clients or during an internship. By tracing out your approach, you can showcase your impact and demonstrate how you improved the user experience. Remember to include the results of your work and any testimonials you have.
Your portfolio should represent your design philosophy and demonstrate your ability to solve design problems effectively.
Step 6: Build a network
Building a network is an essential step toward success as a UI UX designer. To become a successful UX designer, building a network is crucial for finding mentors and job opportunities.
Networking can provide valuable insights from seasoned designers with years of experience in the field. You can learn about the best tools, emerging trends, and more. A meaningful relationship with these designers may lead to job opportunities at their companies. Joining a design community like Design Buddies on Discord or User Experience Design on LinkedIn can help you find designers with the skills and experiences you’re interested in.
Step 7: Find the best job opportunity
As you search for a job in UX design, it’s essential to be aware of the various titles and job descriptions that emphasize different skill sets. Titles like UX Designer, Experience Designer, and Interaction Designer are just a few of the many options you might come across.
However, reading the job description and qualifications is vital to ensure they align with your skills and interests. Job search websites such as LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor have thousands of UX designer job listings, so take your time to find the right fit. Remember to tailor your resume and cover letter to each job you apply for.
Step 8. Pick up new skills and knowledge on the way
As a UX designer, it’s essential to keep learning and growing your skill set even after you’ve landed a job. This will help you improve your skills, create new design solutions, and stay up-to-date with recent trends and tools. You can learn on your own by reading and practicing design for your portfolio site, or you can take design courses.
Look for courses specializing in a specific topic or area of your field that you don’t have much experience in, such as journey mapping. This will help you expand your skills and become a more well-rounded UX designer, making you a more valuable asset to any company.
What are the Required Skills for Becoming a UX/UI Designer in 2024?
To become a UI/UX designer, you must develop fundamental skills in user research and persona development, information architecture, wireframing and prototyping, and user testing, among others. A UX Designer’s skill set needs to be broad enough to handle all these tasks. Check out these skills that will help you understand how to become a UX designer.
UX designers must have a combination of technical skills to succeed. They include:
User Research and Strategy
UX Designers need to be proficient in research methods such as qualitative and quantitative data collection. They should be able to plan and conduct research, interpret and analyze findings, and identify biases that could hamper the product’s success.
Wireframing and Prototyping
UX Designers need to be skilled in wireframing and prototyping tools like Sketch and InVision. A prototype is a communication tool to convey the final design’s user-facing elements to the graphic designers, UI designers, developers, and other team members.
User Interface (UI) Design
UX Designers should have a strong understanding of visual interface elements like layout, typography, graphics, images, and animated motion. While other team members often do UI design, UX Designers should have a keen sense of what design elements optimize user interactions.
Responsive Web Design
UX Designers should be familiar with responsive design, which ensures that designs display well across different screens. Over half of all website traffic worldwide is generated by mobile phones, making responsive web design a crucial skill for UX Designers.
To effectively manage relationships and streamline the design process, UX designers must develop skills that serve the business side of product design.
UX Designers need to know how to take a project or design from ideation to delivery. While not solely responsible for product development, the ability to lead, coordinate, and stay on schedule and budget is crucial for a more efficient process.
Team and Stakeholder Management
UX Designers collaborate with diverse individuals within an organization, such as Graphic Designers, technology and development teams, Product Managers, and senior management, to create products with optimal user function. Managing stakeholder expectations inside and outside the organization is important in delivering the best product or service.
UX designers also require soft skills to work with different teams and integrate user input effectively.
- Empathy is essential in understanding how users think and feel.
- Collaboration involves active listening, taking the initiative, including and eliciting views from others, and brainstorming.
- Good communication skills are also crucial, whether presenting to clients and stakeholders, interviewing users, or collaborating with teammates.
Scope of Growth in a UI/UX Career
User Experience (UX) Design is rapidly becoming one of the most in-demand careers in the technology industry. This is because UX Designers are involved in many stages of a project’s life cycle, from initial concept development to final product launch. According to UXDesignInstitute.com, Hired.com’s Mind the Gap: A Report on the U.K.’s Technology Skills Landscape reveals a surge of 289 percent in requests for UX interviews (Source).
The number of websites in existence surpassed 1.74 billion as of January 2020. Additionally, more than 4 million mobile apps are available for download on Android and iOS combined. With over 4 billion people worldwide using the internet, the skills of a UX designer are required in some capacity for all of these digital entities.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for industrial UX designers is expected to grow by 3 percent annually until 2028. Additionally, CNN Money predicts that the demand for UX designers will increase by 18 percent from 2015 to 2025 (Source).
In the United States, the average base pay for a UX designer is $85,277 per year, according to Glassdoor. However, some companies pay higher salaries, such as Apple, which offers salaries ranging from $73,000 to $183,000, Adobe offering $66,000 to $162,000, and Google offering $77,000 to $173,000, as per Glassdoor data.
UX design is considered one of the best careers for work-life balance. UX designers typically work in a comfortable office environment, with flexible hours and the opportunity to work remotely. They can also take breaks and adjust their schedules to maintain a healthy work-life balance. UX designers have the chance to work on projects that align with their interests and passions, which can lead to greater job satisfaction and less stress.
Common Job Titles in UX Design
There is a diverse range of job titles in UX Design, reflecting the many industries in which UX Designers work. Some of the most common job titles in UX Design include UX Designer, User Researcher, UX Researcher, Usability Tester, Information Architect, Experience Designer, Interaction Designer, UX Strategist, UX Architect, UX Product Manager, UX Analyst, UX Engineer, UX Developer, Product Designer, Visual Designer, and Content Strategist.
How to become a UX Designer: Is a Degree Necessary to Land a UX Design Job?
While only a few UX-specific degree programs are available, several related degree programs can help prepare you for a career in UX design. Human-computer interaction, interaction design, and information architecture degree programs have the most overlap with UX skills and concepts. However, common majors like psychology, computer science, design, industrial design, information, and anthropology can also provide relevant knowledge and skills.
Whether you pursue a degree or not, balancing your coursework between studying people and technology is essential. For instance, you can take courses in psychology, anthropology, and sociology to understand user behavior and computer science, programming, and graphic design to learn the required technical skills. In UX design, you need to understand both the user’s needs and wants as well as the technical aspects of building websites or applications.
While a degree is a popular path toward becoming a UX designer, it’s not the only one. Relevant experience and transferable skills, certification, and self-guided learning can also prepare you for a career in UX. Ultimately, gaining the knowledge and skills to understand the user and build functional and usable products is the key to breaking into this career.
Is a UX-Related Degree or Certificate Worth It?
Although it is possible to learn UX design on your own, there are several benefits to a structured learning environment, such as a degree, certificate program, or a UI UX bootcamp.
Before jumping into the benefits, let us consider whether a degree/certificate is worth the time and effort in your quest to learn how to become a UI UX designer.
A degree or certificate can help you gain skills and knowledge, which may be required for some jobs, but self-guided learning and low-cost resources are also available. Consider your career goals, skills, and financial situation to determine if a UX-related degree or certificate is worth it. It depends on individual circumstances, so research programs, weigh the costs, and consider your goals before deciding.
Let’s sum up some of the benefits of a UX program.
- Some jobs require a degree or certification as a prerequisite for applying. By earning a degree or certificate in UX design, you may become more competitive in the job market and open doors to positions requiring a specific education level.
- Structured learning provides a systematic approach to ensure you learn all the critical skills and concepts necessary for success in UX design. Identifying gaps in our knowledge can be difficult, and a certificate program or degree can help fill those gaps. This approach can also help build a strong foundation of knowledge and skill in a relatively short time.
- Participating in a UX program can offer networking opportunities that may be difficult to find independently. You can meet and collaborate with other UX designers, exchange ideas, and build professional relationships. This network can provide valuable feedback on your work and help identify job opportunities.
- Many UX programs offer job search resources like interview practices, hiring consortiums, or resume reviews. These resources can provide practical advice and support during your job search and increase your chances of finding a job in UX design.
Choosing a UX Design Program: What to Look For?
The UX field offers various courses, bootcamps, certifications, and certificate programs for aspiring professionals who are exploring how to become a UX designer. It is vital to choose the right one as the value of the certificate, the experience and exposure you take home, and the opportunities it provides are crucial outcomes of your investment. Here are some things to look out for in a UX program.
- Look for programs with project-based learning, including hands-on projects to build a portfolio.
- Make sure the program is led by UX experts with credible field experience.
- Consider programs with positive career outcomes from completing the training or coursework.
- Choose a program that matches your learning style, whether it’s a full-time study or flexible learning.
- Hands-on experience with design tools is crucial, so look for programs that provide experience with standard design software like Figma, Adobe XD, or Sketch.
Ready to Join a UI/UX Bootcamp from a Top University?
Because the field of UX design is constantly evolving, becoming a skilled and certified UX designer requires a commitment to ongoing learning and development. The UI UX Bootcamp delivered by Simplilearn, in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts, is an excellent opportunity for aspiring UI UX designers to gain the essential skills and knowledge needed to succeed in this field.
With live lectures, hands-on learning, and job assistance, this program will help you gain a world-class learning experience and transform you into an industry-ready UX designer. Plus, you’ll get the advantage of networking with design experts from Microsoft and SPJ. Enroll now and become a certified UI UX expert in five months!